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Theresa "Tessa" GrayTessa has spent the first sixteen years of her life being overprotected by her aunt after the death of her parents in a carriage accident. She lives almost all her life in books, dreaming of having the kind of adventures the heroines she reads about do—until she is forced to travel from New York to London when her brother Nathaniel goes missing and only a pair of mysterious—and sinister—women called the Dark Sisters seem to know where he might have gone. The Shadowhunters of the London Institute may be Tessa's only hope of finding Nate, but their mysterious world of demons and Downworlders holds many dangers for her—especially when she realizes she might be more a part of it than she'd thought.
- Affectionate Nickname: She is called Tessa by most everyone, Tessie by her brother, and Tess by Will.
- Arranged Marriage: Tessa was going to be forced to marry the Magister had she not been rescued by Will. She was obviously not very happy about it.
- Brainy Brunette: She is a wide reader and quotes poetry quite often. She has the potential to lapse into Badass Bookworm territory.
- Chekhov's Gun: Will's mention of Boadicea gives Tessa the strength to fool the Magister.
- Chekhov's Gift: The clockwork angel. Also, Tessa's dislike of chocolate and the gift Nate gives Aunt Harriet...
- Driven to Suicide: Subverted. She makes the Magister think she killed herself so that he wouldn't get his hands on her power, but in reality she Changed into a woman who'd died by a gunshot wound seconds before the wound would prove fatal.
- Expy: Of The Draco Trilogy version of Hermione Granger .
- Faking the Dead: In The Clockwork Angel, she fakes her own suicide to prevent Mortmain from using her power.
- First Kiss: William Herondale in the attic.
- Good Angel, Bad Angel: Played with by having Jem and Will be Tessa's angels, respectively. It doesn't hurt that they're both part angel.
- Half-Human Hybrid: She's a warlock. Her father was a demon who fooled Tessa's mother into thinking he was human.
- Interspecies Romance: With both Will and Jem.
- Love Triangle: Will—>Tessa<—Jem
- Mark of the Supernatural: Despite being a warlock, she does not have a mark because her mother was a Shadowhunter. This is basically her distinguishing mark.
- Morality Pet: For Will.
- My God, What Have I Done?: Invoked in The Clockwork Princess, when she realizes exactly why and how Mortmain wishes to use her.
- Parental Abandonment: Her parents died when she was three.
- Shape Shifter: This starts off the whole story because of her ability to change into anyone, even possessing some of their memories and personality (she just has to touch one of their items to do it the first time).
- Dead Person Impersonation: She can do this.
- Humanshifting: This is her unique power. Her whole schtick is that she can change her appearance into any humanoid, dead or alive, as long as she has touched an object that belonged to them. She's turned into both males and females.
- Not Quite Back to Normal: She worries that this would happen eventually.
- Shapeshifter Default Form: Her normal body, of course.
- Voluntary Shapeshifting: After she learns to control her powers.
- Trailers Always Spoil: The fact that Will and Tessa kiss is revealed in the trailer.
- Two Guys and a Girl: With Jem and Will.
- Wide-Eyed Idealist: Tessa always compares her adventures to what she's read and hopes for the best of all situations.
William "Will" HerondaleSeventeen-year-old Will is the sort of young man nice Victorian girls were warned against. He drinks, gambles, and enjoys the company of ladies of questionable virtue—at least, as much as he enjoys anything. Will hates everyone and everything, with the possible exception of Jem, and even that's in some doubt. Charlotte despairs of keeping him alive past the age of nineteen. When he finds himself oddly drawn to Tessa, his friends begin to hope that the Downworlder girl will prove Will's unlikely salvation—but as Tessa grows closer to the bleak secret that makes his life a prison, danger threatens to destroy them both if she ever finds out the truth.
- All Girls Want Bad Boys: Will constantly says he's always out drinking and gambling, and that there are a dozen girls who've claimed that he'd compromised their virtue. Jem, however, thinks he's lying to make himself look bad.
- But Not Too Foreign: He's half English and half Welsh. His actual name is Gwilym, but this is only brought up once or twice in passing and for some reason he seems to prefer to be called by his "British" names.
- Cartwright Curse: A variation that just doesn't cover Love Interests. When he was younger, Will opened a Pyxis and ended up being cursed such that anybody who cares for him will die. Or at least, that's what the demon told him.
- Chronic Hero Syndrome: According to Jessamine, Will thinks he's Galahad. And it's true.
- Dark and Troubled Past: Or at least, he alludes to one quite often.
- Deadpan Snarker: Oh, Will.Gabriel: You know, there was a time when I thought we could be friends.Will: There was a time when I thought I was a ferret, but that turned out to be the opium haze. Did you know it had that effect? 'Cause I didn't.
“They’re not hideous,” said Tessa.Will blinked at her. “What?”“Gideon and Gabriel,” said Tessa. “They’re really quite good-looking, not hideous at all.”“I spoke,” said Will, in sepulchral tones, “of the pitch-black inner depths of their souls.”Tessa snorted. “And what color do you suppose the inner depths of your soul are, Will Herondale?”“Mauve,” said Will.
- And there's this scene from The Clockwork Prince:
- Emo Teen: According to fans. He even lampshades it himself at times.
- Even the Guys Want Him: De Quincy and Magnus Bane both hint at this about him.
- Expy: Of the Draco Trilogy version of Draco Malfoy .
- Heterosexual Life-Partners: With Jem. So much that even though both boys love Tessa, they are willing to let the other one have her and even if Jem died after marrying Tessa, Will would never pursue Tessa as he feels it would be a betrayal to his friend.
- Hollywood Atheist: Pulvis et umbra sumus. For those who don't read Horace, that means "we are dust and shadows," pretty much said by Will to be what he believes in.
- I Want My Beloved to Be Happy: Pulls this for both Tessa and Jem when they announce their engagement.
- I See Dead People: Confirmed in the first chapter of The Clockwork Prince to be one of the few Shadowhunters that can.
- Interspecies Romance: With Tessa.
- Jade-Colored Glasses: He alludes to a traumatic childhood quite often.
- Jerk Ass: He very occasionally strays into Jerk with a Heart of Gold territory, but he really isn't. However, he does shift into Jerkass Façade territory after the discovery that he literally kills everyone he loves. Until it turns out that he doesn't. He's still distant, though, but that's just his personality.
- Jerkass Façade: It's to stop people from caring about him too much - because of his curse, they'll wind up dead eventually. After he finds out that there is no curse, he mellows down.
- Mr. Fanservice: Big time. Will's good looks are given a lot of attention.
- Odd Friendship: With Jem - Will is a rude asshole and Jem is a kindhearted nice guy. They even look absolutely different: Jem is all white and silver and Will is all dark colors.
- Playing Drunk: Jem says it's to make himself look bad. It is revealed in The Clockwork Prince why.
- What Beautiful Eyes!: His dark blue eyes are one of his most striking features.
James "Jem" CarstairsBrought up in the Institute in Shanghai, Jem's parents were killed by a demon who allowed Jem to live—but with a terrible price to be paid. Frail and silver-haired, Jem seems an unlikely demon-killer, but his skills and swift intelligence make him a formidable foe. He finds a kindred spirit in Tessa as both of them feel they are torn between two worlds, neither belonging completely to one or to the other. As Jem's affection for her grows, will Will have to hurt the only person in his life he's ever seemed to care about?
- Blood from the Mouth: Due to his 'illness', he coughs up blood when weak.
- But Not Too Black: According to Cassandra Clare, an early cover for one of the The Clockwork Prince him pulling his hat over his face. The cover was changed when Clare protested.
- But Not Too Foreign: He's half English and half Chinesenote . His actual name is Jian, but this is only brought up once or twice in passing and for some reason he seems to prefer to be called by his "British" name.
- Chronic Hero Syndrome: According to Jessamine. Not as much as Will, though.
- Dark and Troubled Past: A demon who had a grudge against his mother tortured him in front of his parents, injecting him over and over with a drug that made him hallucinate vividly. See Soap Opera Disease.
- Deadpan Snarker: His snarkiness comes mostly from saying something, then adding "Not really" with something humorous. He can play the trope completely straight, though.
- Definitely Just a Cold: To Tessa when she asks about his health.
- Disease Bleach: Turns out it's because of a demonic halluginogenic drug originally used to torture him as a child. Same goes for his eyes.
- Elegant Classical Musician: He can play the violin, and quite well, too.
- Expy: Of the Draco Trilogy version of Harry Potter.
- Full-Name Ultimatum: A partial version of this trope; Will is the only one to call him, "James", although it is a mark of affection more than anything.
- I Can't Believe A Girl Like You Would Notice Me!: To Tessa, after she accepts his proposal.
- Ill Boy: He has to take a drug to battle a disease he got from being tortured as a child and coughs up blood if he goes too long without it.
- Incurable Cough of Death: His illness that causes him to cough up blood. No cure has been found. That is until the epilogue of The Clockwork Princess, where a cure was finally found.
- Interspecies Romance: With Tessa.
- Jade-Colored Glasses: Subverted. He had a very traumatic experience but seems to function perfectly normally outside his "illness".
- Kindhearted Cat Lover: When he adopts Church.
- Memento MacGuffin: His mother's family ring, which he uses to propose to Tessa.
- Morality Pet: For Will.
- Oblivious to Love: Probably can't tell that Sophie's sweet on him.
- Odd Friendship: With Will - Jem is a kindhearted nice guy and Will is a rude asshole. They even look absolutely different: Jem is all white and silver and Will is all dark colors.
- Secretly Dying: As of The Clockwork Prince, he is still hiding his Soap Opera Disease from everyone except Will and Tessa.
- Soap Opera Disease: It was caused by a demon drug that was used to torture him and his parents when he was younger. There is no known cure for it, and he has to keep taking a specific drug to keep on fighting - as Brother Enoch says, taking the drug means a slow death, but keeping him off the drug would mean a quick one.
- Sword Cane: His Weapon of Choice is a jade-tipped one.
- Technicolor Eyes / Gray Eyes: Jem's eyes, like his hair, are silver.
- Token Minority: He's part Asian.
- You Gotta Have Blue Hair: His hair is described as silver.
- Your Days Are Numbered: He is addicted to a drug (yin fen) that is slowly killing him. However, to stop taking the drug will also kill him.
Charlotte Branwell (nee Fairchild)Twenty-three-year-old Charlotte runs the entire Institute with a capable hand. Kind and loving, she does her best to care for the orphaned Shadowhunters who live under her roof while hiding her loneliness from the absent-minded husband she loves. It seems as if there's nothing Charlotte can't manage—until Tessa's search for her missing brother begins to uncover a web of corruption and deceit in London's Downworld that threatens to tear London's Conclave of Shadowhunters apart.
- Brainy Brunette: Charlotte is very intelligent.
- Deadly Disc: Uses two on the battle after Blackfriar Bridge.
- In the Blood: It's mentioned in passing that her father was the previous caretaker of the Institute.
- Like a Son to Me: It's almost as if Will, Jem, and Jessamine were her own children, except, according to her, for the part where they were required to love her.
- Parental Substitute: Raised Will, Jem, and Jessie since they came to the institute. Will says that she would have been called a governess had she not been so intelligent and if she didn't have the ability to chop one into pieces.
- Pregnant Badass: As of the end of The Clockwork Prince.
- Team Mom: Her main function is basically making sure everybody doesn't kill everybody.
- Younger Than They Look: Charlotte's small size is countered by the air of competence she exudes, and Tessa says she had assumed her to be much older than twenty-three.
Henry BranwellAbsent-minded and brilliant, Henry spends his waking hours in the crypt of the Institute, inventing fabulous machines and weapons out of cogs cams and gears. Unfortunately just as many of Henry's inventions don't work as the ones that do, and Henry is as likely to set himself on fire as he is to invent something new and amazing. When Tessa finds herself followed by a silent band of assassins who turn out to be automata—human beings made from clockwork parts—it is Henry who must decipher how they work in order to find the demonic mechanical genius at the heart of the most evil plan London's supernatural world has ever seen.
- Absent-Minded Professor: While not really being a professor in the first place. But he's a brilliant inventor who just happens to forget things.
- Gadgeteer Genius: His defining character trait.
- Genius Ditz: Big time - Henry is as absentminded as they come, but when it comes to mechanical stuff, he's your guy.
- Phlebotinum Breakdown: What most of his inventions end up doing.
Jessamine LovelaceJessamine's parents, like Will's were Shadowhunters who left the Clave. Their deaths in a fire orphaned her, leaving her to be brought up in the Institute by Charlotte and Henry. Jessamine hates everything about being a Shadowhunter, from the training to the danger to the existence of demons, which she sees as "smelly and disgusting." Armed with a razor-edged parasol and an equally sharp tongue, Jessamine can be dangerous if she wants to be—to herself as much as to the supernatural creatures she's sometimes forced to encounter.
- Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass: Despite trying all she can to be The Load, she can't deny her Shadowhunter heritage.
- Don't You Dare Pity Me!: In Clockwork Prince.
- Dumb Blonde: Subverted. While flouncy and just a tad spoiled, Jessamine is a perfectly capable Shadowhunter in her own right.
- English Rose: Tessa Gray is a New Yorker who travels to Victorian London, and she describes Jessamine as one. She strives to be a Proper Lady and has many lady-like attributes (like her Parasol of Prettiness), but ultimately she fails to be a straight example because she's something of a Spoiled Brat.
- Et Tu, Brute?: She betrays the Institute for Nate.
- The Fashionista: Jessamine is very concerned about how she looks, and it's she who takes Tessa out to buy new dresses.
- I Just Want to Be Loved: Implied to be her motivations for her actions in The Clockwork Prince.
- Improbable Weapon User: She uses a parasol Henry made for her. The fabric is edged with electrum, though.
- Interspecies Romance: She develops feelings for Tessa's brother, Nate, though this may just be out of her desire to be a Mundane.
- The Load: Played straight and subverted with Jessamine. She doesn't want to do anything and makes herself into a load, but she also demonstrates that she's a very capable Shadowhunter.
- Love Freak / In Love with Love: She wants someone to take her away from the Institute.
- Love Martyr: For Nate - she continues to feed him information despite Tessa's repeated insistence that he loves no one but himself.
- Parasol of Prettiness: Aw, look at Jessamine's parasol! It's so pretty and pink and it even has flowers on it...
- Parasol of Pain: ...and the edges are laced with electrum. Ouch.
- Proper Lady: Strives to be this. She fails because of her attitude.
- Razor Floss: Edges her parasol, turning it into an effective weapon.
- Reluctant Warrior: Although she's no Actual Pacifist. She just really, really hates the Shadowhunter world.
- Secret Relationship: With Nate in Clockwork Prince.
Benedict LightwoodOne of the older members of London's Enclave and Gabriel's father. Benedict questions Charlotte's ability to run the Institute.
- Baleful Polymorph: In The Clockwork Princess, he is gradually driven mad and finally turned into a gigantic serpent-like demon as a result of the demon pox.
- Does This Remind You of Anything?: Demon pox is the Shadowhunter version of HIV or syphilis.
- Heel–Face Turn: He withdraws his challenge to Charlotte's leadership, so she won't reveal to the Clave that he has demon pox.
- Interspecies Romance: With an unknown number of Demonesses
- Jerkass: He knowingly infected his wife with demon pox.
- Stay in the Kitchen: One of his claims against Charlotte's leadership is that women are incapable of running the Institute.
- Tragic Monster: Well, YMMV on this, but his sons were forced to kill him after he turned into a giant serpent.
Cecily HerondaleWilliam's younger sister who arrives at the Institute at the end of Clockwork Prince.
- Action Girl: She assists in killing the demon Benedict Lightwood turned into.
- Affectionate Nickname: She is called "Cecy" by Will and later Gabriel Lightwood.
- Blood Knight: A milder example of this. Gabriel Lightwood notes that Cecily seems to enjoy fighting.
- Deadpan Snarker: Just like her brother.
- Hot-Blooded: Will describes her as being stubborn
- Strong Family Resemblance: With her brother Will and their mother.
- What Beautiful Eyes!: Has dark blue eyes like her brother.
Gabriel LightwoodBenedict's younger son and Will's apparent rival.
- Big Brother Instinct: Will says the reason Gabriel hates him so much is because he compromised the latter's sister's virtue. But then again, it's Will, so we don't know if that's true or not. As of the second book, it's apparently because Will rejected his little sister's advances (in his defense, she was a lovesick twelve-year-old) and broke Gabriel's arm in public.
- Heel–Face Turn: He stops supporting his father after his father is turned into a demon by the demon pox.
- Hot-Blooded: In direct contrast to his brother, Gideon, who is The Stoic.
- Jerk Ass: Quite blatantly.
- Jerk with a Heart of Gold: He's surprisingly patient with Tessa while training her. Of course his Jerkass side comes out when he's frustrated and he is prone to taking out his anger on other people. He becomes much nicer in The Clockwork Princess when his father is turned into a demon as a result of demon pox and he is forced to stay at the Institite.
- The Rival: Presumably to Will. They gradually learn to respect each other in The Clockwork Princess. Will doesn't have much of a choice, his younger sister ends up marrying Gabriel.
- Sibling Yin-Yang: With Gideon.
- Sitcom Archnemesis: From what we've seen, he is this to Will.
- Thicker Than Water: Gabriel puts strong emphasis on staying loyal to family. At the end of The Clockwork Prince, Gabriel chooses to stay with his father while his older brother Gideon deserts him for the Institute. In The Clockwork Princess, he finally understands that he was wrong to trust his father so much.
Gideon LightwoodGabriel's older brother, who returns from Spain in the second book.
- Big Brother Instinct: Towards his younger brother, Gabriel.
- Deadpan Snarker
- Gratuitous Spanish: Justified given that he did spend time in Spain, so he probably picked up some of the language.
- Gray-Green Eyes: Gray for his calmness, Green for his Shadowhunter powers.
- Informed Flaw: Is supposedly an even bigger Jerkass than his little brother, although he's shown himself to be nicer than Gabriel. Considering that was Will speaking, it's no wondernote .
- Interspecies Romance: With Sophie. At least until she ascends and becomes a shadowhunter herself.
- Jerkass: It's possible that he used to be this, but in The Clockwork Prince, it appears he got better while he was in Spain.
- Sibling Yin-Yang: With Gabriel.
- Starcrossed Lovers: Him and Sophie.
- The Stoic: He is a lot calmer than his brother Gabriel.
Lady Camille Belcourt
- The Beautiful Elite: Camille is a vampire, so naturally this would come into play.
- Dumb Blonde: Very much averted.
- Foregone Conclusion: We already know that her and Magnus's relationship isn't going to last long.
- Interspecies Romance: With Magnus Bane and, previously, a werewolf, which de Quincey frowned upon, because, you know, vampires and werewolves are supposed to loathe each other. Camille really started hating de Quincey after he murdered her werewolf lover.
- Lady of War: As a vampire, Camille can fight, but as a lady of high social standing she carries herself with a dignified manner. Tessa has difficulty imitating her during The Infiltration.
- Our Vampires Are Different: She is very lovely.
- Proper Lady: Behaves like this.
- Vampires Are Rich: Naturally.
Alexei de Quincey
- Evil Former Friend: To Camille. Apparently he still doesn't get the message that she doesn't see him as a friend - or anything else, for that matter - anymore, not after he killed her werewolf lover.
- Killed Off for Real
- Red Herring: he's not really the Magister.
- The Scapegoat: In all honesty, de Quincey is not the poster boy for morality, but he is certainly not the Magister.
- Vampires Are Rich: Known to throw absolutely lavish parties where they abuse mundanes.
- Bi the Way: Although most initially know this from the Mortal Instruments series, this series shows it at first with certain comments he makes about Will upon first meeting him and Tessa, and later makes it obvious when he is shown to have started a physical relationship with Woolsey Scott. He's certainly still quite campy even in this series.
- Even the Guys Want Him: De Quincy was interested in him, "as more than friends". Tessa didn't know what Magnus was hinting at, but that was because such things were unheard of in such a time period... (or just not talked about).
- Interspecies Romance: With Camille and Woolsey Scott.
- Love Martyr: Has shades of this for Camille.
- Mark of the Supernatural: He has cat eyes.
- Token Minority: Like Jem, he's part Asian.
- Twofer Token Minority: He is biracial (part Asian) and a self-proclaimed "freewheeling bisexual." And a warlock to boot.
The Dark Sisters
Ragnor FellA warlock whose help Charlotte enlists to keep tabs on the Herondale family.
- Amazing Technicolor Population: Justified since he is a warlock.
- Mark of the Supernatural: He has ram horns, green skin and an extra joint in each finger.
Woolsey ScottHead of London's werewolf pack.
- Badass Gay: He is the leader of a werewolf pack.
Sophie CollinsOne of the servants at the Institute.
- Deadpan Snarker: Oh, so much. Especially to Will.
- If I Can't Have You...: The reason for her scar - the son of her previous employer wanted her and when she refused his advances, took a knife to her face so that nobody could have her beauty.
- Interspecies Romance: With Gideon.
- I See Them, Too: She has a touch of the Sight, which is how Charlotte let her work for them.
- Oblivious to Love: Likewise, she had no idea that Thomas was sweet on her.
- Scars Are Forever: She has a huge one running down the left side of her face that distorts her beauty. She seems to be more or less okay with it, though, saying that whoever would love her now wouldn't love her just for her looks.
- Sliding Scale of Beauty: She is an Imperfect beauty example. She used to be beautiful and still is, but has a scar stretching across her face.
- Starcrossed Lovers: With Gideon.
- When She Smiles: According to Tessa, Sophie has a downright amazing smile that makes her beautiful despite her scar.
Thomas TannerAnother of the servants at the Institute.
- Alliterative Name: His surname is revealed to be "Tanner" as of the second book.
- The Big Guy: Which is rather ironic, considering he was a shrimp when he was younger.
- The Driver: Drives the carriage.
- I See Them, Too: Has the Sight.
- Impaled with Extreme Prejudice: By an automaton.
- It Has Been an Honor
- Killed Mid-Sentence
- Last Request: He asks Will to take care of Sophie, because Sophie is...something.
- Legacy of Service: He comes from a long line of people who've had a touch of the Sight, which is required for servants of the Nephilim. Needless to say, his family's been serving the Institute for a while.
- Stuffed in the Fridge: Killed by the automatons.
AgathaThe cook at the Institute.
Nathaniel "Nate" GrayTessa's brother, who has gone missing at the start of the series.
- Consummate Liar: The guy is really good at improvising tall tales, you have to give him that.
- Et Tu, Brute?: What's with the constant brother/sister betrayals in Cassandra Clare books?
- Pretty Boy: According to Tessa and Jessamine.
- Really Gets Around: Although, not explicitly stated, Tessa implies it in her conversation with Jessamine.
- The Unfavorite: Subverted with his biological parents, but with if Aunt Harriet was ever supposed to pick which one of her sister's children would become more successful, it would be Tessa.
- Gadgeteer Genius: It was he who created the Ridiculously Human Clockwork Creatures.
- Happily Adopted: When he was younger.
- Meaningful Name: Axel Mortmain makes mechanical devices. And don't forget that Mortmain means "Hand of Death."
- Out of Focus: In The Clockwork Prince. He does appear in a flashback.
- Take Over the World: He wants to do this, very very much.
- You Killed My Father: Supposedly has a grudge against Shadowhunters for the "unjustified" murder of his warlock parents.
Cyril TannerThomas's older brother.
- Legacy of Service: He comes from a long line of people who've had a touch of the Sight, which is required for servants of the Nephilim. Needless to say, his family's been serving the Institute for a while.
- Replacement Goldfish: For his brother. This actually bothers Sophie a bit.
- Strong Family Resemblance: Resembles Thomas very much, both in appearance and demeanor, although Tessa says he's more indifferent.
- Submissive Badass: Can stay on equal footing with Gabriel for a while, although Gabriel will always beat him due to being a Shadowhunter.
- Suspiciously Similar Substitute: Is essentially an older Thomas, brought in to replace him after his death.
- Action Girl: In spite of the fact that she's a mundane, she is a deadly fighter.
- Bunny-Ears Lawyer: She sings annoyingly depressing songs everytime she cleans, which always get on everyone's nerves...and as mentioned above, she's more competent in battle than most Shadowhunters. Will actually commented that she makes more difference in battle than both Lightwood siblings.
- Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass: She's just a cook and someone who makes depressing poetry/songs, yet is arguably the best fighter who isn't of supernatural(werewolf, vampire, etc.). Even Will got stunned.
- I See Them, Too : Has the Sight.
- Legacy of Service: Her family's served the Nephilim for generations.
- Supreme Chef: Takes over the job from Agatha.
- Suspiciously Apropos Music: Likes to sing weepy ballads that tend to get on the Shadowhunters' nerves, and they've fallen into this once or twice.